"Benton also ran U.S. Sen. Rand
Paul's 2010 Senate campaign."
8/29/14, "Mitch McConnell's campaign manager resigns after Iowa bribery scandal deepens," Lexington Herald-Leader, Sam Youngman
"Jesse Benton, the campaign manager for U.S. Senate Minority Leader
Mitch McConnell, will resign his post as a bribery scandal from the 2012
presidential campaign threatens to envelop Benton and become a major
distraction for McConnell's campaign.
Benton told the
Herald-Leader that he met with McConnell Friday afternoon and offered
his resignation, which McConnell "reluctantly accepted."
Benton said he offered his resignation, effective Saturday, with a "heavy heart."
He maintained his innocence, faulting "inaccurate press accounts and unsubstantiated media rumors."
"This decision breaks my heart, but I know it is the right thing for Mitch, for Kentucky and for the country," Benton said.
name has surfaced in connection to a bribery scandal dating to his time
as former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's political director during the 2012
On Wednesday, former Iowa state Sen. Kent
Sorenson pleaded guilty to accepting $73,000 from Paul's campaign in
exchange for his endorsement and to obstruction of justice for lying
about his involvement.
Sorenson's guilty plea included two sealed documents, which could threaten to involve Benton.
In a statement provided first to the Herald-Leader,
Benton said there "is no more important cause for both Kentucky, my new
home I have come to love, and our country than electing Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader of the United States Senate."...
Benton said in
his statement that "there have been inaccurate press accounts and
unsubstantiated media rumors about me and my role in past campaigns that
are politically motivated, unfair and, most importantly, untrue."
Benton said he found it more "troubling" that the rumors "risk unfairly
undermining and becoming a distraction to this re-election campaign."
for Mitch McConnell is one of the great honors of my life," Benton
said. "He is a friend a mentor and a great man this commonwealth
It was unclear Friday evening what effect Benton's
resignation and the circumstances surrounding it might have on
McConnell's battle against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is
Kentucky's secretary of state.
Stephen Voss, a political science
professor at the University of Kentucky, said the resignation probably
won't have any immediate impact on McConnell's campaign organization
since Benton has played a less visible role than McConnell's senior
adviser, Josh Holmes, in recent months.
"Benton already served
his role of helping McConnell appeal to the conservative base during the
party primary, and a lot of campaign responsibilities had already
passed from his shoulders," Voss said.
"The problem with the
scandal is the negative attention it brings to the McConnell campaign,
which will come regardless of whether it turns out Benton really did
anything wrong," Voss said. "Any whiff of scandal within a campaign
organization can bring criticism, because opponents suggest that it
reflects on the judgment of the candidate who appointed the individual."
The Grimes campaign did not immediately issue a statement on Benton's resignation Friday evening. The
Kentucky AFL-CIO, which has endorsed Grimes, said Benton's resignation
is proof that McConnell's campaign is "self-destructing from within."
owes the voters of Kentucky an explanation for hiring Benton and paying
him hundreds of thousands of dollars while knowing about his tainted
past," AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan said in a statement.
role with the McConnell campaign was viewed as a surprise within the
political arena given his close ties to the Paul family. In addition to
running Paul's presidential campaign, Benton also ran U.S. Sen. Rand
Paul's 2010 Senate campaign in Kentucky, and he is married to the older
When Benton joined the McConnell camp,
observers viewed it as a ploy by McConnell to quiet a restless Tea Party
and win favor with Rand Paul.
That view was reinforced last year
when a secret recording of Benton was released in which he said he was
"holding my nose" working for McConnell in an effort to better position
Rand Paul for a 2016 White House run.
When the tape became
public, Benton expressed his regret for letting down McConnell, who is
vying for a sixth term against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes,
Kentucky's Secretary of State.
Earlier Friday, the McConnell campaign said it would be inappropriate for it to comment on the ongoing Iowa investigation.
McConnell obviously has nothing to do with the Iowa Presidential Caucus
or this investigation so it would be inappropriate for his campaign to
comment on this situation," McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore
said in a statement.
Benton's abrupt departure comes just days
after McConnell was heard in a secret recording, reported first by the
liberal-leaning publication The Nation, telling an audience of major
Republican donors that he would block a vote on the minimum wage and
other issues pushed by Democrats if he becomes Senate majority leader.
The resignation and secret recording could provide the Grimes campaign with a one-two punch, Voss said.
revolve around big money in campaigns, so they threaten to reinforce
each other," Voss said.
"Even worse, both events reinforce a
longstanding Grimes campaign theme that McConnell is too tied into the
world of lavish election spending to represent Kentucky. This week has
been a gift, falling into the lap of Grimes just when she had a
bus-rental scandal dogging her own campaign."
On the plus side for McConnell, Voss noted that Benton is not known as a "McConnell man."
presence in the McConnell camp was more of a bridge to Rand Paul's wing
of the party* than a reflection of the minority leader's long-time
political organization," Voss said. "The photo of Benton holding his
nose as he stands next to McConnell, a joke that nonetheless illustrated
the distance between them, has gone from being a liability to being a
defense for Team Mitch."" via Free Rep.
*Comment: "Rand Paul's wing
of the party"??? It doesn't exist unless you mean the GOP Establishment. As soon as Paul's former campaign manager Jesse Benton went to work for McConnell it was over for him. Rand then flipped for the Establishment himself by endorsing McConnell, cavalierly trashing time, energy, and hopes of volunteers in Kentucky who worked so hard to elect him in 2010. His 'bait and switch' cut the Tea Party off at the knees. Obviously he wouldn't endorse a Tea Party candidate against McConnell in the 2014 primary. These days he keeps busy lecturing us on how we must be different. Why would anyone in their right mind listen to a 'bait and switch' artist?
Rand Paul was still ripping off the Tea Party with his 2011 book. The Tea Party label has made millions for plenty of phonies.